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Blizzard Talks About WoW Stability and Service 100

Posted by Zonk
from the new-servers-can-only-be-good dept.
Via 1up, information from Producer Shane Dabiri on the future of the World of Warcraft service. He offers up details on the new server setups, new server sites, and the much-anticipated character transfer service. From the article: "Scheduled to go live this summer, this feature will allow players to move their characters, within certain restrictions, to a realm of their choosing. This means that player's will now be able to join their friends on other realms without the need to wait for a pre-set mass realm transfer. In addition, this will also contribute to a balancing of the player load from realm to realm, which again is a specific way for us to reduce realm queues and lag. We know that many player's are eager for this service to be implemented, so we'll share further details as soon as more information becomes available. "
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Blizzard Talks About WoW Stability and Service

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  • by xutopia (469129) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:58PM (#15264675) Homepage
    Again... /sigh
  • within certain restrictions

    I see that and immediately think: "bend over, here it comes..."
    • within certain restrictions

      I see that and immediately think: "bend over, here it comes..."

      I don't know, I tend to think that's more like "we're not going to allow a PvE character to move to a PvP server" or something similar.

      • I immediately thought of a myriad of ways they could implement this (disastrously) in the name of stopping "cheaters."

        -No moving to a new server that X people have moved to this day/week/month
        -No moving to a new server with X people already existing
        -No moving to a new server more than X times per day/week/month
        -No moving to a new server unless you are level/age X
        -No moving to a new server because the server move daemon is down...
  • by adinu79 (860333)
    Yay, the topic's not showing.

    They should upgrade their forum servers first and then if this works out, think about upgrading the game servers and doing al those nifty things they're talking about.
  • Pretty amazing that you can't read this because the forums are down.
  • by GeekDork (194851) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:00PM (#15264698)

    It could mean that Blizzard is expecting a rather massive drop in player numbers and may need to reduce the number of servers. They will transfer characters to other servers at random and then need that feature to let people get back together with their guildmates. Of course, it needs not be Free Beer, but that's probably just my paranoia speaking.

  • by Rhys (96510) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:02PM (#15264710) Homepage
    They killed the Blizzard warcraft forums. They're all up in arms about their class talent review, which has had the trees posted over at ign or somewhere.

    Mages, start your whineing...
  • I love WoW players. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rallion (711805) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:06PM (#15264735) Journal
    When the last battleplan was posted, the forums FILLED with people posting things along the lines of "Forget new content until you fix the servers!" When this one was posted, they filled with "What? That was all about the servers! No new content?"
    • Didn't you know, people want to have cake and eat it too. :)
      • by spun (1352)
        How can you eat it? Now the inverse makes sense, you can't eat your cake and have it too, but you pretty much have to have the cake before you eat it.

        Yes, I am a pedant, so what?
    • With a player-base so huge, every time a change is made (or isn't made), there is enough of a minority opposing it to seem that every single aspect of the game needs fixing. Go to any class forums or realm forums and you will get the impression that every class is weak, and every other class needs to be nerfed (or their own class buffed/fixed).

      In such a huge pool of players, the people who yell loudest are the only ones that are heard unless you take the time to look closer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:10PM (#15265268)

      I'm no WoW player, but...

      1. Maybe there's a large number of players who want new content, and a large number of players who want more reliable servers. I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure WoW players haven't marged into some sort of gelatinous blob hive mind. They are allowed to have differing, even conflicting desires.
      2. Maybe it's quite legitimate to want a) fresh content and b) the ability to play it at the same time. No good having fresh content without the ability to play it, and no good having the ability to play the same thing you've played a hundred times before.

      Shocking, I know.

    • Who says it's the same people bitching?
    • This is much like how things work on slash: you have a massive number of people involved, and if even 1 in 10 people complains about something, it will seem like a huge number of complaints. There's no reason to believe that the contrary complaints are coming from the same people.
  • I am very happy to see that I will soon be able to move my character from realm to realm and be able to play with my friends so that I am not just running around hack / slashing to pass time for people to come around. Yayness.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:10PM (#15264776)
    "He offers up details on the new server setups, new server sites, and the much-anticipated character transfer service."

    Sadly, the new server setups rated poorly during the Ziff Davis Slashdot benchmark.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:30PM (#15264929)
    Horde on Server A is outnumbered. Horde members on Server A get pissed. Horde members on Server A leave in drowes for server B.

    Blizzard will disallow Horde Players on A to leave. Horde members get more grumpy, being outnumbered AND unable to leave. Blizzard will encourage Horders from other servers to move to server A to "balance" things.

    Horde member on server C, suffering the same fate, sees the opportunity and jumps over to server A. Only to realize that he traded purgatory for hell. He gets grumpy and with a sigh decides to drop his old char.

    Moves back to server A and makes an Alliance character...
    • It's not that simple. I spent time on servers where allies were most populous, and on servers where horde were most populous.

      It's actually not fun to be on either side if the numbers are way out of whack. If you're in a huge majority, (and you like world PvP), you find little opportunity to have engaging, entertaining (challenging) PvP.

      Likewise, if you're way outnumbered, you never get any good PvP because you're constantly being steamrolled. Personally I prefer this to being on the majority side though
    • This makes no sense.

      Outnumbering the opponent on servers means you have to wait forever to get into PVP. Otherwise you really don't care.

      So the scenario should be more like:

      Alliance on Server A is overpopulated. Alliance member on Server A gets tired of being unable to enter any battleground. Alliance members on Server A leave in droves for server B where Alliance isn't overpopulated.

      Of course, the problem is finding a server where alliance isn't overpopulated, but the problem doesn't reinforce itself lik
      • Granted, my experience comes from the times before Battlegrounds. For me the game lost any appeal after about 3 months, and back then the problem was as stated. In the meantime, I have to agree, it reversed.

        The Battlegrounds pretty much did it for me. No offense to those who enjoy WoW (I love EVE, and there are quite a few who simply don't get what the appeal of a game that's more a business sim than an MMORPG could be), but the Battlegrounds looked like some MMORPG version of Counterstrike to me. I've seen
    • Another problem is how do you know if Server A, B, C, D, E, F.....is overpopulated of your faction. If you go from Server A to Server R and server R is way more overpopulated if your same faction, it was a waste.
  • You are assuming that everyone posting is of the same mindset and with the same priorities.

    1)Group one wanted more server fixing
    2)Group two wanted more server content

    When fixing 1) group 2) posts. Seems pretty simple to me.
  • When select realms (10 or more) are experiencing intermittent outages, database corruption, and other problems starting at about 01:50 AM and expected to be resolved sometime around 20:00 PDT tonight as of the last posting.

    Preemptive PR, bad timing or sychronicity? All I can say is: "Way to go Blizz!"
  • grayd skool (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by necro2607 (771790)
    "We know that many player's are eager for this service to be implemented"

    Hmmm.. "We know that many player is are eager for this service to be implemented"?

    I see... it makes perfect sense.

    On a more serious note, you'd think a company as "big" as Blizzard would catch such an error...
  • by nahdude812 (88157) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:42PM (#15265540) Homepage
    This'll probably cost me karma, but I feel like I need to say it anyway.

    People are really willing to demonize Blizzard for things like server performance. Lots of claims about how I would just fix the code, or how I would buy more servers, or how I would do this or that.

    The fact of the matter is that Blizzard is running one of the single largest scale applications in the world period. Their database requirements are way more than anyone reading Slashdot (who doesn't also work for Blizzard or Google) has ever had any experience with.

    No matter how much experience you think you have, all the rules change when you cross certain thresholds, and even if you're a really good enterprise architect, unless you have a single data-drive heavily-transactional application with many millions of users, and many billions of records, you don't know what they're going through.

    No matter how sinister you might think Blizzard is, they're still a for-profit company (actually, the more sinister you think Blizzard is, the more this applies). For-profit companies don't do things (like be lax about fixing their network problems) if they can help it, since they do lose customers for that sort of thing, and that obviously directly correlates to lost income.

    I guarantee that there's tremendous pressure from on top to fix these issues, and if they're not fixed yet, then it's because your php website that supports 20 SIMULTANEOUS users(!!!) was a little easier to fix.

    Consider things like common complaints, "Why don't they just throw more hardware at it," maybe their data centers have consumed their floor space, air conditioning capacity, or available power supply. They have 5 independant data centers in the U.S., and each data center can support up to 40 realms. That means, yes, data centers have limited capacity, and if you're full, you have no option to put another server in without begining to risk bringing the entire data center down. You can add more capacity when you physically enlarge the building, buy bigger air conditioners, and also get the power company to run bigger power lines, each of which can take many months to complete.

    Not all things are easily fixed with brute force, and people's jobs are on the line here guaranteed, the guys who are in charge of this stuff are more interested in it working than you, since you can turn your computer off and go outside; they can't just ignore their jobs.
    • I won't go line by line to refute your wishful thinking post.

      But you should consider that there are plenty of companies who live by their network and service availability and who are running vastly larger datacenters than Blizzard is.

      5.5M users (or 6 or 6.5 or whatever they're up to now) pales in comparison to what many financial institutions support every day, or what payment processing companies support, or what trading and clearing companies support.

      And the size of database that Blizzard supports is a jo
      • Luckily for the telcos and financial institutions, they only have to deal with a high deal of data transaction that do not need to be down-to-the-second mission critical. Their mode of transaction between accounts of data is much more streamlined also. Noty to mention, NONE of these data centers need to issue graphic and real-time (to-the-second for enjoyable gameplay) data assets to millions of disparately configure client setups all over the world (luckily the client is controlled by a dedicated applica
        • by juuri (7678) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @05:22PM (#15266454) Homepage
          Do not even compare a MMORPG with a telco/financial institution on levels of complexity.

          Right because if you think Blizzard's system is even remotely as complex or robust you are either totally ignorant of real financial systems or being obtuse on purpose. If there's a transaction error on a Blizzard database (and yes these do happen somewhat frequently) a person might complain via in game mail. An error with a financial transaction and laws may have been broken.

          Blizzard is doing nothing special, the fact that they are having the same growing pains issues as every MMORPG simply shows their arrogance.
          • Blizzard is doing nothing special, the fact that they are having the same growing pains issues as every MMORPG simply shows their arrogance.

            You know, I don't really remember any other MMORPGs ever reaching 6+ million subscribers. But then again maybe I'm just being arrogant...
          • An error with a financial transaction and laws may have been broken.

            Either that or you just landed on Community Chest.

      • There's a lot more going on on Blizzards servers than data transactions; data transactions are just a part of the pie. But even looking at the data transactions, there's also probably several orders of magnitude more transactions per user account made on a daily basis than with a financial institution. I for one don't transfer $1 into my account 300 times a day, while each time a user loots something, a transaction has to be performed. If they kill a mob with 7 silver on it, a gray item, a quest item, so
    • It's really simple. If the servers aren't performing well (this is subjective but Blizzard is currently admiting this) then Blizzard should not be selling new subscriptions.

      The fact that they are still charging for new subscriptions while the servers are borked is crooked. Whether they are unwilling to fix the servers, unable to fix the servers, or if nobody on the planet is able to fix the servers, is irrelevant.

      • by mmalove (919245)
        They actually tried that whole stop selling subscriptions until we fix the servers thing when the game first came out.

        But seriously, I'm not one to tell them how to fix the problem - true, but I do know things have not gotten better in the last year, they've tumbled worse. And when it comes down to it, they don't pay me to fix their computers, or even understand them. I pay them for a service they aren't delivering. That's the most aggrevating thing a company can do. It would be different if Blizzard wo
    • You are right, armchair administrators such as myself do have a habit of saying I would have done this different, and that different. Sometimes our suggestions might be relevant to Blizzard's situation, sometimes (as you suggest) we just don't understand what they are dealing with, and our suggestions are irrelevant.

      That said, I think it is very fair for us to all claim Blizzard went into this without enough foresight, and it is their own fault they are now over their heads.

      If their datacenters are op
      • Of all the days to not have mod points!
    • The fact of the matter is that Blizzard is running one of the single largest scale applications in the world period.

      Bullshit. The NYSE is far larger, and so is your regional ATM network. eBay is way bigger. Fortune 500 companies run datacenters with much more computing nodes.

      Blizzard's main problem is that they are trying to run one of the cheapest large-scale applications ever.

      No matter how much experience you think you have, all the rules change when you cross certain thresholds, and even if you're a r
      • I hope you're not comparing the architecture of a MMOG like WoW to a web-based system. I really do. There's a world of difference between those two things.
        • Oh? Do tell. Do tell. I have worked on large multiplayer game systems and large transactional web systems, so I am as qualified as anyone to discuss this.

          Tell me, what's the biggest difference between a MMOG architechture and a transactional web architecture?
    • I posted a similar comment to a previous article, no one listens.

      And actually, not even google has experience running an application as scaled as WOW, their frontend is so trivial there really is no comparison.
      • not even google has experience running an application as scaled as WOW

        WOW! Way to make yourself look completely computer ignorant! Google searches trillions of websites simultaneously to millions of users almost hourly. The 5~6 million user base World of Warcraft caters to is water vapor compared to the number of users Google (and GMail and Google Earth and Google Groups and Google News and Froogle to say the least) serves.

        And if you want to see a computer system that with enough processing power to make a

        • by Surt (22457) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:56PM (#15268164) Homepage Journal
          You have to think about what those processes are doing. Is google's search time sensitive to the ms range? Does the NYSE have to be more accurate than the nearest second? You do understand that google doesn't actually search the live data of the web when you make a search at google.com, right? You response indicates a grave misunderstanding of the difference between the way a company like google serves a precomputed search response vs WOW computing and serving a complex simulation in ms time sensitive real time.

          • I donno about NYSE, but Nasdaq is shooting for guarenteed transaction times in under 100 ms. Guarenteed, not "as long as you're not idling in ironforge / trading in Treasury Bonds." And they don't have the luxury of dividing the accounts up into trading groups / Realms. Yes, WoW is larger than your average video game system, more complex, and provides a high degree of interaction. But it's really not so far beyond everything else that they appear as ants. Moreover, many of the actors in the system are incre
            • Well, I'm probably one of a few people who has worked on both types of systems, and I can tell you, they are quite different. The financial systems are easier to parallelize, and far more tolerant of delay. A 100ms response time for a transaction is something nasdaq may be shooting for, but would be completely unacceptable to WOW players as horiffically laggy (and would have them complaining nonstop). A max of 33ms, and shooting for 10ms reigns in video game work. That's an order of magnitude difference
          • s google's search time sensitive to the ms range? Does the NYSE have to be more accurate than the nearest second?

            Yes and Holy mother of God, hell yes. Speed is everything in the information age, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the NYSE. If the NYSE went down for just 1 hour, whoever screwed up would be blacklisted from working every single corporation even the world for the rest of their lives. Thats how damned important server stability can necessary.

            You response indicates a grave misunderstanding of the dif

        • Google's searches are non-transactional, and their data collection is neither transactional nor time sensitive, meaning if it takes 4 hours to index a website, no big deal. Basically every action that happens in an MMO is both transactional and time-sensitive.

          It's a very different type of data C.R.U.D. operations which allow you to focus on making the R. aspect insanely efficient while the others can complete whenever they complete. Also, even the R. aspect is not accuracy sensitive, if two people from di
    • There have been other games at the complexity of WOW. Yes WOW has the largest userbase but to claim that makes it an order of complexity higher then other MMORPGs is silly. The ex-Blizzard guys who left to from ArenaNET clearly took with them much of the talent that got Blizzard were it is today. Guild Wars runs a single server for the well over 1 million users they have. (I say users since they support this w/o resorting to subscription fees ;P ). On top of supporting those counts and players from all
      • Guild Wars uses a totally different model. They instance everything everywhere. That means that when one zone is performing badly, they can just put more hardware in place to handle that zone. Non-instanced you can't do that. Only one physical box can handle Ironforge, you can't just magically put more computers together to make it run better.
        • Actually I read an interview with the creators at Arenanet and there is a very large number of servers. They have servers spread throughout the world (US, Europe, Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Australia) connected to the backbone. The game will automatically check was server has the lowest latency for all players in a group and will transfer them to that location.

          With Guild Wars there is only a single point of login with some central place to hold player data. They do not seem to have the problems that

    • No matter how sinister you might think Blizzard is, they're still a for-profit company (actually, the more sinister you think Blizzard is, the more this applies). For-profit companies don't do things (like be lax about fixing their network problems) if they can help it, since they do lose customers for that sort of thing, and that obviously directly correlates to lost income.

      I understand where you are coming from, but it seems to me that they should be keeping everyone in the loop as to what going on. I kno
    • The one thing that Blizzard does that I have not heard of being done (at least on this scale) is the database clustering. This is much of the problem. You have 16 or so realms sharing the same database clusters. So one or two of those servers goes down (as happened this week) and you need to keep all of the cluster down to work on them.

      I know their datacenters are limited in space but you cannot tell me that in a year and a half, they could not:

      - increase the amount of data centers
      - reduc
  • by Radiant_Zer0 (972885) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @05:22PM (#15266448)
    "This means that player's will now be able to..."
      "We know that many player's are eager for this..."

      I note a common error here, and offer the following. It is intended to be a polite, adult comment, not offered as an insult or to denigrate anyone's intelligence.

      "'s", as in "Bob's" or "player's" is used in reference to something belonging to or about Bob, or a single player. As it appears in the post, players should not have an apostrophe. Without a ', it then refers to multiple players, generic players, not 'a' player, but |some, all, many, the| players.

      This is a remarkably common error, and your writing stands a greater chance for being taken seriously if you try to avoid this sort of thing. Some grammar/spelling/usage mistakes are much more easily overlooked, but things like the misplaced ' as above are SO common they become worthy of polite comment. The writer is submitting in a professional capacity, representing a company, and seeks to have his comments taken seriously. That's more likely to happen if he avoids most of the more basic mistakes, such as that one.

      Again, I intend this as a polite, reasonable observation, with honest intent to help someone, not to cause ill-will. I apologize to anyone that feels offended, and ask that you re-read the above, while considering me smiling as I write it. Rather than feel offended, I'd rather you read the above and come away feeling empowered with new information.
  • I've just started playing WoW a week ago, and my main character reached level 14 this morning. (Male forsaken mage) It is an amazing game...by far the most mature MMORPG I've seen. Virtually none of what I considered flaws in Ultima Online in present here.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and state as I have before that I do not consider Blizzard the evil company that many seem to make them out to be. Yes, they're strict, and yes, they come across as somewhat paranoid with regards to the rules, but given w
    • Namely people who find the concept of software ownership difficult to tolerate.

      Please, enlighten me. Which software ownership was violated?

      • I'm guessing that your perspective is that it was the ownership of people who'd bought copies of Diablo/Diablo 2.

        My own perspective about bnetd though is that Blizzard (and anyone who develops an application or protocol, for that matter) has the right to decide whether to open the source of said application or document the workings of the protocol, or not.

        I'm not going to disagree with anyone who says that FOSS is a good thing. It's beneficial in a lot of different ways. What I do have problems with on the
    • There was a joke that went something like this: "One-shot case study: a study made on a single test subject, from which it is concluded that all clovers have four leaves."

      Point in case: yeah, so your new character created on an empty server still has no problems. Whop-de-freakin'-do. Big surprise that. Mine had no problems after a week either.

      Skip forward a month or two, and the server was already full to the brim. Yay for 30 minutes waiting in a queue. Well, ok, that still worked. Then it was occasionally
      • >Point in case: yeah, so your new character created on an empty
        >server still has no problems. Whop-de-freakin'-do. Big surprise
        >that. Mine had no problems after a week either.

        What I meant was primarily that none of the *gameplay* issues which I saw with UO are present in WoW. Yes, I've experienced a queue on my resident server now, (Jubei'Thos) and yes, I've also now experienced the joy of Tuesday night. One other problem which I'll admit having is that on my server at least, Alliance players appar

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